Leverkusen Equalize Late in Munich
Thomas Tuchel lined up with a similar but slightly changed starting eleven as Sven Ulreich, Konrad Laimer, Dayot Upamecano, Kim Min Jae, Alphonso Davies, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sané, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry and Harry Kane started for the Bavarian side.
Bayern started off the match extremely positively. The opening 20 minutes were dominated by the Munich side and resulted in 1-0 lead thanks to a headed goal from Kane off a corner from Sané.
However the second 20 minutes of the first half were nearly as bad as the first 20 were good. They managed to escape giving up more than one goal by the skin of their teeth, only allowing a fantastic free kick goal that was unsavable for Ulriech.
Then they managed succeeded those 20 minutes with another five of complete dominance where they could have scored two or three more goals.
What’s noticeable is that Bayern consistently have more energy, better movement, crisper passing and better pressing in these phases. When they’re playing like that, they look unbeatable. But as I mentioned there are also the bad phases.
There are far too many times where Bayern look very poor. And there are consistent characteristics of those times.
First of all, the play against the ball becomes extremely lax. The team as a whole seems to just take their foot off the gas and give their opponents an inexplicable amount of time on the ball.
This has allowed their opponents to find through balls and space behind the defenders which increases the pressure and chances of errors on the defense.
Then there is the poor passing in all areas of the pitch that lead to giveaways and more chances. A big part of that is due to the utter lack of movement off the ball. When this team gets into these phases, it seems as if there are 3-4 players that are moving while the rest of them are standing in a small bit of space watching the action.
For me all these are all things that Tuchel absolutely should be able to affect and change. Most of these problems, at least in my opinion, are new to the Tuchel era. I’m sure they are a result of differences in his tactics vs his predecessors but they cannot continue. He has to find a solution to find more consistency in all areas of the game or this team will be in serious trouble later in the season.
The second half brought more questions. Both teams looked as though they had expended every ounce of energy they had during the opening 45 minutes as each team was content to hold the ball for long periods with the occasional chance on goal.
Tuchel made the usual five changes throughout the second half but even that wasn’t straightforward. Oddly, he chose to take off Kimmich in favor of leaving on Goretzka despite a pretty lackluster performance. I can only assume Tuchel thought Kimmich was not capable of playing the full 90 despite what Josh thought.
That move looked better in retrospect though as it would be Goretzka who would give Bayern their second goal and apparent winner. Mathys Tel set up the German for a tap in from the top of the six yard box to make it 2-1. However in the third minute of added time, Davies would just clip Jonas Hofmann on the edge of the area and after VAR review a penalty was given which Exequiel Palacios converted 2-2.
Overall the performance from both sides in the second half was poor. Perhaps it was the quick restart after the international break but it seems as though there might also be some questions of fitness levels within the team. Hopefully it’s just an early season blip but it’s also something to keep an eye on as things start to ramp up.